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Star Tribune file photos of Mildred "Mickey" Friedman
Mildred "Mickey" Friedman, the influential Walker Art Center design curator who died in September at 85, was remembered this week in New York City for her samba, her style, her curiosity, and her quiet grace. About 100 A-list artists (Chuck Close, Claes Oldenburg, Christo, Judith Shea), architects (Hugh Hardy, Billie Tsien, Frank Gehry), museum directors (Sam Sachs, Frick emeritus; Adam Weinberg, Whitney; Olga Viso, Walker) and past and present Walker friends gathered at the Century Association on a rainy Monday evening.
Former Walker curator Dean Swanson recalled dancing the samba with her on a "glamorous dance floor in Rio" in 1963 when they were helping Friedman's husband Martin, then the Walker's director, prepare a show of American art that took grand prize at that year's Sao Paulo biennial. With a nod to the Friedmans' long marriage (she died on their 65th birthday), Tsien compared "smart, tough, rational" Mickey to the character Rosalind Russell played opposite mischievous, fast-talking Cary Grant (Martin) in the classic 1940 film "His Girl Friday."
Recalling the "quiet grace and gentle beauty of a loving friend," Gehry took a jib at a Manhattan institution when he credited her with always "searching for uncharted water, unlike MOMA." Lise Friedman, eldest of the couple's three daughters, observed that one of their mom's "most important lessons was always to make an extra place at the table when someone unexpectedly comes."
After Hardy led toasts to the Friedmans, the crowd munched hors d'oeuvres, including a high-style version of that old Midwestern standard, "pigs-in-a-blanket" (puff pastry, no cheese, Dijon mustard).
The Oslund and Associates landscape architecture firm, in association with Snow Kreilich Architects, is expected to be picked for a $10 million reconstruction of the Minneapolis Sculpture Gardenand renovation of the Cowles Conservatory.
Money for the project came from the Minnesota State Legislature which appropriated $8.5 million in state bonding funds in May 2014, and from the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization (MWMO) which is providing up to $1.5 million for new stormwater management systems.
The 11 acre Sculpture Garden, sited across the street from Walker Art Center near downtown Minneapolis, is built on former marshland owned by the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB). The Sculpture Garden, designed by Edward Larrabee Barnes, opened in 1988 and hosts 45 sculptures that are owned by the Walker.
The Oslund team was chosen from three finalists. The team will be recommended to a committee of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board for action on August 20 and, if approved there, to the full MPRB for action on September 3. If approved by the MPRB, as expected in September, the team will begin getting input from community meetings starting in October. Designs will be drafted over the winter, and construction should start in summer 2015.
The project will include repair or replacement of "deteriorated and inadequate infrastructure," the MPRB said in a statement. Among those items will be irrigation, drainage and stormwater systems, walkways and retaining walls.
The garden and conservatory will be closed throughout construction which is scheduled to be finished in fall 2016.
This rendering depicts "Balancing Ground," this summer's temporary art installation for MCC Plaza.
Last summer, it was MIMMI, a giant inflatable sculpture that hovered over the Minneapolis Convention Center plaza like a giant mood ring, allegedly changing colors along with the emotional ebb and flow of passersby. This year's Creative City Challenge winner is "Balancing Ground," a series of wooden benches interspersed with teeter-totters and surrounded by a canopy of prisms that will cast constantly changing shadows, patterns and colors.
The interactive artwork by Amanda Lovelee, Christopher Field, Kyle Waites and Sarah West was one of several finalists the public could vote for online.The foursome will get $75,000 to build and install their project in early June. They intend it to be a "space without walls, open to all."
Begun last year as a way of attracting more people to hang out on the underused plaza and interact with both the art and each other, Creative City Challenge is now a collaboration between the the city of Minneapolis, the MCC and Northernlights.mn, which puts on the annual dusk-to-dawn Northern Spark festival.
"Balancing Ground" will be unveiled at 8:30 p.m. on June 14 as part of this summer's Northern Spark event.
MIMMI, an interactive sculpture lit from inside by LED lights that changed color, won the 2013 Creative City Challenge in the program's first year. Photo by Renee Jones Schneider.
Remember that giant multicolored UFO-like sculpture hovering over the plaza by the Minneapolis Convention Center last summer? The city is bringing back the program that made it possible, expanding funding for the winning entry from $50,000 to $75,000. They've also added a partner, Northern Lights.mn, the force behind the annual dusk-to-dawn outdoor arts extravaganza known as Nothern Spark, at which this year's winning public artwork will make its debut (June 14).
The Creative City Challenge competition for a "temporary destination artwork" was launched last year as a way of attracting more people to hang out on the plaza, actually a green roof across the street from the Convention Center. It is open to individuals or teams of designers, artists, architects and engineers, but at least half of the members must be based in Minnesota.
The public can vote online for one of this year's jury-selected finalists, all of which encourage interactivity. The proposals will be presented publicly at the University of Minnesota's School of Architecture and Design, Rapson Hall at 6 p.m. tonight (Monday Feb. 10). They are:
Voting runs through Feb. 28 at http://www.startribune.com/a2560
Vergne in a Thomas Hirschhorn 2006 installation at the Walker. Star Tribune staff photo by Tom Wallace.
Philippe Vergne, who was curator and later Deptuy Director and Chief Curator at Walker Art Center, has been picked as director of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. He follows Jeffrey Deitch, a former New York art dealer, whose controversial leadership of MOCA ended with his resignation last September after three years on the job.
The 35 year old museum in downtown Los Angeles has struggled financially in recent years as it tried to manage three sites and to develop an artistic vision that would please artists and excite support from wealthy collectors and potential donors. Within the past year board members raised $100 million to shore up an endowment that had dropped to $6 million in the 2008 financial crisis. The money is expected to produce income of at least $5 million annually to support operations.
Vergne,47, is fondly remembered in Minneapolis for his indelible French accent and his venturesome exhibitions which included more than 25 international shows including solo show and installations by Yves Klein, Thomas Hirschhorn, Huang Yong Ping and Kara Walker.
His decade long association with the Walker (1998 - 2007) was briefly interrupted by a return to his native France to run the private Francois Pinault Foundation in Paris. When the foundation's namesake mogul decided to relocate the foundation to Venice, Vergne in 2005 returned to the Walker as Deptuy Director and Chief Curator.
In 2008 he moved to New York to head the Dia Art Foundation which focuses on massive installations, conceptual, and earth-art primarily by mid-20th century Americans. He is credited with strengthening Dia's board of directors, consolidating its operations, and developing long range plans to stabilize its finances and artistic ambitions.
Artists have been deeply involved with MOCA since its founding in 1979 and their vociferous criticism of Deitch as overly commercial contributed to his departure. Conceptualist John Baldessari heartily endorsed Vergne's selection, saying in a statement issued by the museum, "I am 100% excited that Philippe Vergne will be the new director of MOCA. MOCA is very fortunate. I think it's a perfect marriage."
Other artists who touted Vergne in the museum's statement include Barbara Kruger who cited his "intelligence, vision, and ambition to lead MOCA forward;" Catherine Opie who declared herself "personally thrilled;" and Ed Ruscha who dubbed him "the most artist friendly and at the same time the most community friendly" candidate.
Richard Koshalek, a MOCA director in the 1980s, told the New York Times that, "The most important challenge for the new director is to raise the standard of expectations of the museum within this community and beyond, and that means new, original ideas for the future. If you don't raise expectations in every sense -- in terms of leadership, programs and such -- you will not have the chance to raise the funding needed for the museum to sustain itself programmatically and operationally going forward."
Koshalek, who began his career as a Walker curator in the 1970s, recently returned to L.A. after running the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D. C. for several years. In one of those small-world, musical-chairs coincidences endemic in the art community, the Walker's current director Olga Viso preceded Koshalek as director of the Hirshhorn.
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